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4 Common Apple Pencil Problems & Fixes

The new Apple Pencil stylus for the iPad Pro may be hard to find, but it isn’t hard to use. Its simplicity can be its downfall, however; when the Apple Pencil stops working, it can be difficult to figure out why. We’ve put together a list of the most common Apple Pencil problems – and their fixes.

It might seem like there’s nothing to be done if your Apple Pencil isn’t working right – after all, there are no buttons or displays. That simplicity is actually a good thing, as it makes troubleshooting pretty easy.

My Apple Pencil doesn’t work.

If your Apple Pencil never worked, you might not have paired it with your iPad, yet. Or you might have multiple iPads, and simply tried using it with the wrong device. To pair it with your iPad, pop off the cap, and insert it into the Lighting port on the bottom of your device. A pop up will appear on your iPad, asking if you want to pair the Pencil with this iPad; tap to agree, and your Pencil should start working.

Also, be sure that your iPad supports Apple Pencil in the first place – if you have anything other than an iPad Pro, you’re out of luck. The Pencil isn’t compatible with the iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad Mini 4, or anything older.

Apple-iPad-Pro-Bluetooth-settings

My Apple Pencil stopped working.

If your Apple Pencil was working, but now it isn’t, the first thing to try is tightening the tip of your stylus. Just hold the Pencil in one hand, and twist the tip with your other hand. You’ll want to tighten it by twisting it clockwise. Occasionally, the tip can become invisibly loosen, and the Pencil will stop working. Tightening this tip will usually fix the issue.

You should also make sure that you have Bluetooth turned on. If you put your iPad into Airplane mode, for example, you might not realize that Bluetooth gets turned off. Just swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up Control Center, and make sure the Bluetooth icon is on (if it’s on, it should be mostly white, or lit up). You can also tap on your Settings icon, find Bluetooth in the list, and make sure that the toggle switch is on (it’ll have a green background).

If Bluetooth is turned on, but your Pencil still isn’t responding, you can might just be out of a charge. Most of the time, the iPad will tell you when your Apple Pencil is getting low on battery, but it waits until the Pencil reaches 5% before it pops up a notification to let you know. If you’re not within Bluetooth range when that happens, however, your Pencil can die and the iPad won’t be aware of it. Simply pop the cap off the end of the Pencil, and plug it into your iPad Pro’s Lightning port at the bottom of the tablet. Leave it to charge for a few minutes, and up to half an hour. Then, pull it out, put the cap back on, and try to use it. If the battery is dead, your Pencil should respond after charging for just a few seconds – Apple promises 30 minutes of use with just a fifteen-second charge.

You might try deleting the Apple Pencil from your iPad and re-pairing it. Don’t worry, this won’t delete any files, or any other work on your iPad that you might have done with your Pencil; it only removes it from your settings. To try this, go into your Settings app and tap on Bluetooth in the left column. On the right, you’ll see a list of devices with which you’ve previously paired your iPad. They’ll say either ‘Connected’ or ‘Not Connected’ depending on proximity and power status; you might see either label next to your Apple Pencil entry. Tap on the little circle with a lowercase i at the end of the listing for your Apple Pencil. A new screen will show, reading ‘Forget This Device.’ Tap on that and, if asked, confirm. Then proceed as you would for a brand new Apple Pencil – take off the cap, plug it into the Lightning port, and wait for the iPad to pair the stylus.

The last thing you can try is to reboot your iPad. Sometimes the Bluetooth radio on a mobile device can get a little mixed up, but a reboot will often clear things up. Simply hold the power button down until you see the screen change. Slide the power button to the right, and your iPad will power down. After it’s finished, wait a few seconds, and hold the power button down again until you see the Apple logo appear on the screen. Once the iPad finishes turning on, try using your Apple Pencil – if it still doesn’t work, repeat one or more of the steps above, since rebooting your iPad may have changed something.

If none of the above steps work, you’ll probably have to get a new Apple Pencil. You can take it back to the store you purchased it from, if new, or head into an Apple retail store where they’ll probably just exchange it for a new one.Apple-Pencil-battery-life

I can’t tell how much battery life is left on my Apple Pencil.

Normally, when you pair a Bluetooth device with your iPhone or iPad, you’ll see a special battery icon appear next to the Bluetooth icon at the top of your screen – that’s the battery life for whatever you’ve got connected (usually a headset or headphones). With the Apple Pencil, however, that icon never appears, and instead Apple buries the option deep within your notification center.

To see how much battery life your Apple Pencil has left, unlock your iPad and swipe down from the top of the screen. Tap on the button that reads ‘Edit’, then pick the ‘Batteries’ widget to include on your Today View (just tap the plus icon on the left, and then move it up and down by tapping and holding on the three lines to the right). Once finished, tap on the Done button in the upper right-hand corner. You’ll now see a listing for Batteries, with your iPad and Apple Pencil both listed. You can check it at any time by swiping down from the top of your screen.

My Apple Pencil isn’t writing as well as it used to, or the tip doesn’t feel right.

The Apple Pencil is engineered with a tip that will slowly degrade over time, as harder materials don’t feel as comfortable when you’re writing or drawing on a hard surface like the screen of your iPad. As a result, Apple ships a second tip in the box with your Pencil. Just find your Apple Pencil box, and look for the second tip inside. Unscrew the current tip on your Pencil by twisting it counterclockwise, and keep turning it until it pops off. You can throw this tip away, and replace it by pushing the new tip on, then turning it in a clockwise rotation until it’s tightened.

If you’ve gone through your second tip, or threw away your Apple Pencil box without getting the free second tip out, you might be out of luck, as replacement tips aren’t yet available. Try stopping by an Apple retail store, or calling their support hotline, and explain the situation – chances are good you’ll leave with a new tip on your Pencil.

Did you burn through the list above and still can’t figure out what’s wrong with your Apple Pencil? Leave a question in the comments section below, and someone might have an answer!

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28 Comments

  1. Roberta Coren

    01/25/2016 at 7:37 am

    I find after I’ve paired my pencil it interferes with my ability to use previously paired items, like my Bose speaker for example. It also causes my podcast app to freeze. Even after I’ve unpaired the pencil and “forgot my device” it still give me trouble, I still have to reboot my iPad and occasionally I have to do a hard restart. This issue happens after every time I have paired my pencil. It’s very frustrating and too much time is wasted on this. Any suggestions? It’s a new pencil because my first one stopped working after 1 day. It hardly seems worth the effort/

    Reply

    • J.R. Nelson

      01/28/2016 at 6:31 pm

      Whoa, that’s a pretty strange problem! I wonder if something is wrong with your specific iPad Pro, rather than the Pencil itself? I haven’t encountered any issues, and I stream to my Bluetooth headphones a lot while using the Pencil.

      Reply

  2. Oscar

    01/26/2016 at 9:33 am

    Mine pairs, charges and will open, close, select items so I can see it is functioning but it will not write. Tried new tip, tried repairing, rebooting etc but same problem….no lines/drawing/text in any relevant app such as Notes or Mail. Did I get a dud?

    Reply

    • J.R. Nelson

      01/28/2016 at 6:32 pm

      Unfortunately, it sounds like you might have.

      Reply

  3. Andrew Kin Wai Tsang

    01/28/2016 at 3:33 pm

    Mine stopped working after a week for no reason and i tried all the above steps. It is so annoying waiting 5 weeks for a replacement. I really hope i just got a dud and that it is not a common problem as i got the ipad pro just for the pencil and art apps. I took real good care of mine and carried it around in its original box and barely used it.i wish there was a hover cursor for better accuracy when using large brush sizes…the apps on ios are what really impress me so respect to the talented app developers…i love android for some things…but the app market still pales in comparison to the IOS app market. I think the lag on my wacom intuos is slightly faster for sketching…but i haven’t really had much time to try large brush sizes in different apps to see if it performs faster than my intuos.

    Reply

    • J.R. Nelson

      01/28/2016 at 6:33 pm

      If you’ve got an Apple retail store near you, you should stop buy and tell them your issues – even though Pencil stocks are still slightly limited, most of the time Apple keeps spares of devices in stores to swap out malfunctioning customer devices – even if they “don’t have any in stock” there’s probably a few in back for this exact reason.

      Reply

  4. newmanmark@sbcglobal.net

    02/05/2016 at 10:12 am

    My apple pencil seems to have a more obvious latency delay after only using it for a few days. I did drop it once but it does still work. I changed to the new tip and it still has the latency delay. Could I have damaged it only with a latency problem?

    Reply

  5. Wouter

    02/11/2016 at 12:38 pm

    My Pencil also stopped connecting as well…it connects when stuck into the Lightning port, but is locked at 74% charged. Strange..anybody has a tip ?

    Reply

  6. William

    02/13/2016 at 1:59 pm

    My is ☠

    Expensive gadget! Light durability!

    Reply

  7. Steven

    04/04/2016 at 12:43 pm

    Found a elegant wood case that holds the pencil, the cap, and the lighting adapter. I found it here:https://www.antiquecharacter.biz

    Reply

  8. Jamie

    04/19/2016 at 3:25 pm

    Pencil cannot be used while it is charging; this caught me out today when I tried using my pencil with a flat battery and it wasn’t working (scratching head) so i plugged it into charge but it still wouldn’t work… unplugged it for charge cable after a few minutes and it started working.

    Reply

  9. Samie-Jo

    05/24/2016 at 3:29 am

    Purchased an Apple Pencil today. Paired it to iPad Pro. It worked for about 30 seconds. I followed all the above steps. It’s connected and I can view how much charge it has, but it just won’t do anything. Left it for a while, charged it, did everything you could think of. Returned it to the store I bought it from, got a replacement straight away. This one did the same thing. Also as above mention mine is stuck on 74%. I’m not sure if it the pencil or my iPad Pro. But I have only had the iPad for around a month.

    Reply

  10. jonathan

    05/30/2016 at 1:38 pm

    Recently bought iPad pro and pencil. It activates some functions including keyboard but won’t draw or write. I bought a spare whilst on holiday and it had the same problem…have tried re-booting and re pairing all as recommended. Any further ideas??

    Reply

  11. Needs2Cash

    06/09/2016 at 5:10 am

    Kindly advise how to see the iPencil listed with the devices in Procreate. It lists Adonit Jot, Pencil by FiftyThree, Pogo Connect and Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus…

    …but not my iPencil despite it being paired with my iPad Pro.

    Reply

  12. Shivy

    06/17/2016 at 10:17 am

    I’ve had my pencil for a while, but only now has it stopped working. It’s stuck at 17% and won’t charge. I tried the Bluetooth reconnecting thing and “forgot” this pencil, but now it’s not pairing with the device, for I haven’t received any notification that it has.
    So now I have a pencil that won’t charge OR connect with my iPad Pro. I’m probably gonna have to replace it.

    Reply

  13. Koen

    07/04/2016 at 10:13 am

    I tried and I tried. Pairing went ok, fully charged etc. The pencil was recognized, but still I could not write on the iPad. I was almost returning to the store when I screwed the tip of the pen a bit tighter and then it worked. Maybe this is also worth testing…

    Reply

  14. LadyGadget

    08/22/2016 at 1:06 pm

    Tightening the tip worked!!!!! After rebooting, I un-pairing and re-pairing, I simply loosed and re-tightened the tip. SUCCESS

    Reply

  15. Rurik Halaby

    09/19/2016 at 1:25 pm

    I really enjoy my pencil, but have two problems with it. Once in a while it goes to sleep even if full. To wake it up you plug it in for a second or two and that wakes it up. The other problem is that with design trumping function it has no clip to secure it to your shirt pocket. I did find a purveyor of clips but it looks like hell. Too bad.

    Reply

  16. James

    09/26/2016 at 1:25 am

    When Apple Pencil is paired with my iPad Pro it causes the wifi to keeping dropping out despit full signal and in same room as router. Wifi is perfectly stable until I connect the pencil and then it keeps disconnecting. When it drops out often it does not reconnect automatically. I have to go to settings and press on my network to rejoin. Sometimes this works and it reconnects and sometimes it repeatedly asks for my wifi password despite entering the correct password.

    It is extremely irritating. I have heard of other people experience same issue when pairing other Bluetooth devices but no solutions to the problem have been found.

    Reply

  17. camilomf

    11/15/2016 at 2:53 pm

    THANK YOU! I was about to give up after reading and trying all suggestions in another troubleshooting article online. Turned out my TIP WAS LOOSE! I had tried pushing and pulling on the tip before, used as I am to my other “pencil,” by fortythree. I wasn’t aware of the screw-on, very fine ridges of Apple’s pencil. What’s next? Am I turning into one of those people that call customer service after forgetting to push an “ON” switch?

    Reply

  18. Khurrum

    12/01/2016 at 9:26 am

    My pencil is working fine, but one thing I need to know..
    I used to switch off Bluetooth, WiFi before turning iPad screen off. Even though my pencil is paired, but every time I switch ON Bluetooth, I’ve to plug pencil in the iPad port for connection.. Is this the correct way to plug pencil all the time you need to use it. Second option is that I keep my Bluetooth ON for all times. Are you all operate pencil like this?

    Thanks and Regards,
    KAK

    Reply

  19. Christopher DeGrace

    12/02/2016 at 11:40 am

    Does anyone have a problem with your pencil “skipping” while you write and the Ipad is charging? At least it seems to be far worse while charging. Basically I’ll be drawing a character and there are just random gaps in the drawing.

    Reply

  20. Mey V

    12/12/2016 at 10:45 am

    My apple pencil freezes up when i go to write with it. The ap im in locks up then i have to get out of it and reboot…..anyone know how to fix this?

    Reply

  21. Kenn

    12/21/2016 at 10:27 am

    Deleting and repairing in Bluetooth worked for me. Took me out of panick mode. Thanks much for your article.

    Reply

  22. Joakim G

    12/24/2016 at 6:18 pm

    So yeah got mine for Christmas, had problems pairing when it suddenly worked! Immediately started “sketches pro” and were able to click the color palette and make a few lines before it just stopped working. It pairs and show full charge (now…) on the battery widget, but doesn’t work at all. Tightened tip, tried spare. Disconnected/”forgot device”, rebooted and tried it all at random for hours. Guess I’ll have to take it back, but it’s holidays. And the thing did work!

    What’s the deal with these???

    Reply

  23. PierreDC

    03/05/2017 at 1:30 pm

    Thanks. In my case, I had to forget the device, which I didn’t dare to do before I read this. It worked.

    Reply

  24. Ruba

    03/14/2017 at 2:59 am

    My apple pencil reaches 100% within one minute but once I unplug it show that the battery is very low … I tried leaving it to charge over night but it didn’t work .. I charged it using both the IPad Pro and tried a wall charger too .. but neither worked .. I tried rebooting the I pad , unpairing and pairing it agian

    Reply

  25. Glenn Dale Desquitado

    04/17/2017 at 5:25 am

    my apple pencil works fine on most of the areas of my ipad but when I use it on a particular part ( specifically, a long vertical line 3 inches away from the right bezel) it refuses to register any input from the apple pencil. What could be the problem? someone please help

    Reply

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